The New CMS

7 Strategies to Achieve Safe Opioid Prescribing

CMS strongly supports Governor John Hickenlooper’s efforts to reverse the escalating trend of opioid abuse and misuse and its often-tragic consequences in Colorado. The CMS platform on preventing prescription drug abuse guides our active participation in the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention. Through collaboration with the Consortium, CMS is working to assure access to compassionate, evidence-based care for patients who suffer from acute and chronic pain while reducing the potential for medically inappropriate use and diversion of prescribed medications.

  1. Advocate for safe prescribing.
    Join the CMS Prescription Drug Abuse Committee and become an advocate for safe prescribing.  It is the mission of the CMS Prescription Drug Abuse Committee to reduce the abuse and misuse of prescription drugs through improvements in education, public outreach, research, legislation, safe storage and disposal, and treatment.
  2. Use the Colorado Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.
    Check the Colorado Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) when you prescribe controlled substances.  Review the Colorado Prescription Drug Monitoring Program website to learn about opioid and other controlled substance prescriptions that your patient maybe receiving from other providers.
  3. Know DORA’s opioid prescribing guidelines.
    Be familiar with the DORA Opioid Prescribing Guidelines. Compare your own practice with the recommendations in the guidelines and determine what you can do to enhance your prescribing practices. Follow recommended guidelines to ensure that your opioid patients aren’t at high risk for overdose.
  4. Become educated about safe opioid prescribing.
    Colorado has many excellent resources for education such as the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing’s Pain Management Course (Project ECHO); CPEP’s Prescribing Controlled Drugs: Critical Issues and Common Pitfalls; and, the University of Colorado School of Public Health’s The Opioid Crisis: Guidelines and Tools to Improve Chronic Pain Management.
  5. Discuss safe storage and disposal with your patients.
    Whether at home or during travel, you can help your patients understand that medications should never be shared or kept where others, including children, have access to them. For additional information on safe storage and disposal, refer them to
  6. Give patients access to Naloxone.
    Make certain that all of your opioid patients who might be at risk for overdose have access to Naloxone. Naloxone, also known by its brand-name of Narcan, is a synthetic drug that reverses the effects of a prescription painkiller overdose. If administered in time, naloxone can save the life of an individual who has overdosed.
  7. Learn to identify substance abuse.
    Be comfortable identifying substance abuse and be ready to help. Addiction is a chronic disease that needs treatment. Be ready to help patients in whom you identify potential addiction by knowing local treatment resources.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Stay tuned this page and other CMS communications to learn more about these important changes, follow our progress and learn how you can get involved. We want to hear from you and are available to answer your questions. Please contact CMS President Katie Lozano, MD, FACR, at